Walking into Glass Walls

By Adam Killick

And now it’s time for another edition of our occasional, semi-regular, periodically occurring segment, “seems like a bad idea….”

If there is one thing that Apple fans and critics can likely agree on, it’s that the company’s products have really good design. Apple’s designers really know how to make metal and glass look pretty.

So it was only fitting that when the company built its new headquarters, the architectural design matched the company’s industrial design ethic.

And that resulted in a spectacular building in Cupertino, California, dubbed the “spaceship.”


The ring-shaped building feature lots and lots of glass. Glass walls, glass floors, glass ceilings… you get the idea. And you can bet all that glass is kept sparking clean, so it looks all but invisible, as it was designed to.

Apple’s new “spaceship” campus in Silicon Valley (The Associated Press/Apple Inc.)

But there is one obvious — or perhaps not-so-obvious — issue with the design.

And that is that people have a habit of walking into things they can’t see.

A freedom-of-information request by the San Francisco Chronicle revealed that there have been quite a lot of 9-1-1 calls made from the Apple campus.

What is clear, if you pardon the pun, is that Apple was warned by building inspectors about the dangers of the glass design when the campus was being built. And the company has removed numerous Post-it notes placed by employees that showed where the doors were,

That’s because the designers apparently wanted nothing that might distract engineers and coders from thinking about their work. So those same distracted engineers and coders have been walking into the glass.

Which really seems like a bad idea.



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